Debby Hirsch Wood – P.O.W.E.R.ful Women
Creator and Director of the Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition, Board Member, Artist, Philanthropist
Q: What can you tell us about the Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition?
As a contributing volunteer, I created the Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition – a collaborative effort with the New Orleans Opera Association, Loyola University New Orleans College of Music and Fine Arts, Tulane University Department of Music, and New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in an effort to cultivate young, talented opera singers. My goal was to support the New Orleans Opera Association’s initiative of enriching the lives of all people and providing opportunities through innovative approaches.
Q: When did you launch?
October of 2015.
Q: How were you inspired to create an effort at a 504(c)(3) non-profit organization?
Like most baby boomers, I found myself with time on my hands, a great interest in opera, and saw an opportunity to improve other peoples’ lives. I had already reared my family, travelled the world, achieved numerous goals (including being a published author of a restaurant guide), perfected my artwork technique, dined with friends, worked out, gardened, changed several laws in Louisiana, took online classes, and also joined many organizations, but still had more time on my hands than I needed.
I was trained as a classical concert pianist with an MFA from Tulane University, and I wanted to share my love of music with up and coming young vocal students and my Louisiana community. As a board member of NOOA and Chair of the Education Committee, I collaborated with Loyola and Tulane Universities and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in creating the Donald W. Wood Sr. Vocal Competition. The Wood Competition promotes artistic excellence in Louisiana high school students while providing financial assistance and encouragement.
Q: What were the biggest obstacles and how were they overcome?
Getting two universities, a creative arts high school, and the New Orleans Opera Association to all agree and sign a term agreement was nearly impossible. Each entity has its own set of lawyers. Time was wasting away and I felt like I was playing ping pong with five balls. Once Robert Lyall, the Maestro for NOOA signed off on the agreement, the other parties signed as well and we were ready to launch.
Q: What local resources have you used?
Being rooted in New Orleans, I relied first on my family, my long-time friends, (my alma mater) Tulane, Loyola, NOCCA, and the New Orleans Opera Association.
Q: What is your big focus right now?
I’m focusing on getting the word out to all Louisiana High School students who are studying voice to enter the Wood Competition, which will be held Sunday, Oct. 21, at Nunemaker Auditorium at Loyola University, New Orleans. Information may be found here.
Q: What is the best advice you ever received?
"Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world." – Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation: Mastering the Metaphysics of Abundance and also my favorite:
"Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you."
– Byron Katie
Q: What success have you had in the last year?
My greatest success this past year was being promoted from Mom to Grandmother with the birth of my beautiful granddaughter and having all my children live and flourish in New Orleans, the city I love. We are all close and visit often. There is nothing better on Earth than a loving, close family.
For those who know what truly matters, I believe in creating a legacy in our family and in our community. I believe it is our obligation to change lives, enrich all that we can, and contribute whether time or money to create opportunities for all. It’s the governing dynamics that weigh on my mind; from what I eat, to how I treat others, from where I bank, to laws that need changing, or people who need helping. We all can make a positive difference; be mindful of what you do and how you affect others.
Q: Why are you connected with Fidelity Bank?
I am very grateful for my connection with Fidelity Bank’s P.O.W.E.R. (It’s the Potential of Women Entrepreneurs Realized). Their outstanding personalized service with a wide array of financial products give me the tools I need to succeed and flourish. I have a business account with Fidelity and it allows me a database business development and networking connection opportunities. They are a phone call away with people I care about and rely with the ability to help me in whatever I am doing.